I’m reading once again through John’s gospel. This morning I could hardly get through chapter nine’s discussion of the man who was born blind. If it’s been a while since you’ve read the chapter, I encourage you to do so sometime today when you have a quiet 15 or 20 minutes.
“Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore, some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
How often did Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Lots of times. And each time, the religious leaders accused Jesus of sinning against God because He did not keep the Sabbath.
Theirs was a case of religion versus Jesus; Rules versus Jesus; The letter of the Law versus the spirit of the Law. They stood in defiant and stark contrast to God’s view of how we ought to live out our faith. That’s why the Holy Spirit spoke so often to this dichotomy of Law and Spirit.
“The letter kills,” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 3), “but the Spirit gives life.”
To the Christians at Rome (Romans 8): "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
You might want to reread those last two clauses: “So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
When we live by the Spirit of Christ, walk by the Spirit of Christ, we ‘fulfill the requirement of the Law.’
How freeing is that!
The New Testament gospels and epistles brim over with the contrast of Religion versus Jesus; Rules versus Jesus; The letter versus the Spirit.
That’s precisely why the crowds flocked to the Master. He lived the contrast between the letter of the Law and the spirit of the Law: Love God. Love each other.
To those two commandments He added: Repent, and sin no more.
That was it. And that's why the crowds loved Him.
St. Paul rejoiced in that New Covenant truth. That’s why he proclaimed to those at Galatia who had bound themselves with chains to the Law: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Christian! You and I are free from slavery to rules and the letter of the law. We have freedom to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Freedom to love our neighbor as ourselves. Freedom to repent of our sins and to go and sin no more.
Freedom! It’s why Christians have loved Jesus for 2100 years. Freedom! It’s the reason Christians have grown in their faith and love for Jesus.
Freedom. It is why I love Jesus.
And it is for your freedom that I very much hope you love Him, too.